Plans have been drawn up for a €100 million ‘urban quarter’ at Galway Docks – which will create 500 construction jobs and office space for 2,600 workers. The ‘Bonham Quay’ regeneration project will open up an entirely new area of the city’s waterfront and satisfy urgent calls from the IDA for high-spec city centre office space to attract Foreign Direct Investment. Well-known Galway developer Gerry Barrett has lodged plans with the City Council for 26,000 square metres of ‘Grade A’ office space in four blocks on the two-acre former Topaz oil tanks site at the Docks. It will also offer 2,000 square metres of retail space and restaurants offering views over the Docks and Galway Bay. The project is backed by his Edward Capital company, and will cost €104m to build. According to a spokesperson for the company, the development has the potential to create 500 construction jobs and will provide space for 2,600 workers – satisfying pent-up demand from some multinationals who are waiting for city centre offices. It will create a new urban quarter in the city which Mr Barrett said will be a “reimagining of Galway” in the run up to European City of Culture 2020. He said: “Bonham Quay is a new departure for Galway. The creation of a new urban quarter will stimulate significant employment in Galway city and its environs and will have a ripple impact in the broader national economy. “It will cement a reimagining of Galway as it moves toward 2020 and takes up the mantle of European Capital of Culture. It will make up for a dearth in city centre office space that has precluded major international occupiers of moving operations to the city. It will have a major positive impact on tourism, local entertainment and hospitality offerings. “It will offer significant opportunities for Galway and its surrounding areas post-Brexit with ease of access to both Dublin and Shannon Airports. The quality of lifestyle in Galway is also sure to be a huge attraction for Foreign Direct Investment and their employees. “We will work conscientiously with all stakeholders: government, national agencies, the local authority, elected officials, local business groups and engage with the wider community to deliver 2,600 jobs for Galway. It is our intention to deliver something quite exceptional for the city,” said Mr Barrett.   Source:
The boom is getting “even more boomer”. Well, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) at least, which says 112,000 workers will be required to deliver €17.8 billion worth of housing, infrastructure and foreign direct investment projects over the next three years. Ireland will need 15,200 electricians, 7,800 bricklayers, 11,800 plumbers, 30,800 carpenters and joiners, 13,900 plasterers and tilers, 9,400 painters and decorators, 9,600 managers, 18,100 operatives, and 27,600 general labourers by 2020, the CIF says. And that’s not to mention the plane-loads of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers also required. And that’s not to mention the plane-loads of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers also required. Advertise to Irish Workers in the UK looking to move home Irish Times Abroad ran an online survey in March to ask workers’ views on how they see the industry from overseas, how opportunities compare between Ireland and where they currently live, and what they are hearing about what it is really like to work in construction in Ireland today. With just over 300 participants, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions from the multiple choice answers, but the open-text responses reveal interesting trends and opinions on salaries, career opportunities, boom-bust cycles, and personal factors that might draw construction workers back or keep them away. Why did you emigrate? Fewer than half of all respondents to the survey were working full-time in their chosen occupations before emigrating. One in four was unemployed. Australia was the most popular destination, followed by Britain, the US, Canada , the Middle East and New Zealand . “I qualified as an electrician in 2010 after completing a four-year apprenticeship. I was let go the day I qualified, like most other apprentices at the time. I went labouring for cash, but could not get anything more relevant to my trade. I’m not a snob, but after completing a four-year trade and then not being able to work in the trade was depressing,” said one worker who is currently living in Perth. “I sent hundreds of applications for work but could barely get even a response,” said a New Zealand-based engineer who was let go from their job in Ireland in 2010. “I received an offer from a company in Christchurch after the earthquakes. The future was bleak for construction professionals in Ireland so I had no choice but to leave or else all my study and experience would have been wasted.” Nine in 10 survey participants are now employed full-time in their chosen field, while just 2 per cent are out of work. Career opportunities Given that such a high proportion were unemployed before leaving a country in the midst of a recession, it is hardly surprising that 90 per cent of respondents said they would not have had the same opportunities professionally if they had stayed in Ireland. The scale of the projects they have worked on since emigrating are incomparable to any in Ireland; many wrote about multi-million or multi-billion dollar oil and gas, mining or infrastructure projects. For a chartered quantity surveyor working on the Doha Metro, “the opportunity to work on a brand new $45 billion. You’d bring me back to Ireland kicking and screaming,” he wrote.   A mechanical engineer based in the Pilbara in Western Australia, working on the construction phase of Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG project, said he “could not do similar work in Ireland, or even in the UK”. Better jobs Bigger projects with more responsibility are not the only draw; nine in every 10 said the salary and benefits on offer where they lived were better than in Ireland. A quantity surveyor working on Scirt, the NZD$2.5 billion (€1.58 billion) infrastructure rebuild of Christchurch in New Zealand after the earthquakes, doubled his salary since arriving in 2013. “I have risen from the ranks of junior QS to senior in four years, which could never happen in Ireland.” Six in 10 said working conditions were better than in Ireland, while 76 per cent said their career prospects were superior, with more opportunities for promotion, and training provided by their employer. When it comes to overall job satisfaction, 59 per cent said where they work now was better than Ireland, compared with just 9 per cent who said they were more satisfied in Ireland. Respondents in New Zealand and Australia, in particular, mentioned a better work-life balance and a more holistic workplace environment as significant benefits. You are rewarded for hard work, it’s not about who you know “You are rewarded for hard work, it’s not about who you know,” said one engineer working in New Zealand. “They also have a much better work-life balance. They organise regular company outings where you can bring your family. They genuinely care about your health and mental health. You’re not just a number to them.” The way business is conducted in Ireland was criticised by several participants, who mentioned an “old boys club” approach where “things are still done on a wink and a nod, even at top-tier contracting levels” (according to a project manager, in the UK). Others mentioned higher standards of construction, design, and health and safety where they live.   Ireland from afar While a significant proportion of respondents believe opportunities are improving for them at home, and “expect it would be easy to gain employment” (according to a project manager, in Australia), comments reflected concern about the sustainability of recovery, and the Dublin-centric focus of development. “It appears to be improving given that employment is up, but given the lack of coherent strategic plans at a national level to deal with housing and infrastructure, it is heavily exposed to market trends,” wrote one town planner living in the UK, who is looking to return to Ireland after recently having her first child.   “I am starting to see more jobs from Ireland advertised over here,” writes another technician in the UK. “I’m very tentative about moving home in case it picks up and falls flat on its face again.” Half of all respondents thought job prospects had improved, while 28 per cent said they were not sure, and 19 per cent said they didn’t believe they had. In the comments section, many of the “not sure” respondents said they “don’t care” or were “not interested”. “I look on from the outside and think it’s not for me, as there is no comparison in the salary and cost of living,” wrote a mechanical engineering business-owner based in the UK. Lower wages and higher taxes, along with fewer senior positions, were frequently mentioned as deterrents to moving back. “[The economy] has grown, but for an expat to come home it is not yet good enough,” wrote a construction project manager based in Oman. “Rents are high, cost of living is very high, tax is high.” The cost of car insurance, health insurance, and difficulty accessing loans and mortgages are also perceived as impediments. “Things have improved but the pay is less than on offer in New Zealand,” wrote a father-of-two working in earthquake recovery in Christchurch, who is “undecided” about whether to stay or move back. “Looking at the financial cost of moving home with two kids is scary; car insurance and loans prove that Ireland has not progressed in terms of welcoming migrants back.” While the housing shortage is a concern for many respondents, others see potential in it for builders and other construction workers. “Are you hiring Construction professionals throughout  UK & Ireland?” — Construction Jobs (@Construct_job) May 24, 2017 Sector abroad When asked how the construction sector was performing where they live, strong trends emerged between different countries. “Booming” was a word used again and again to describe the UK, especially in London, but uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union is causing concern. Respondents in Western Australia described a slow-down, with many workers moving east to Sydney where there are more opportunities. “There are so many Irish people returning home . . . the construction industry in Australia is not in as strong a position since the downturn in the resources sector,” wrote an electrician currently working on an LNG project in Darwin. “Many high-paying [fly-in fly-out] jobs in remote locations are no longer available. But there is potentially a lot of work arising in the urban areas like Sydney.” A quantity surveyor working on the Doha Metro wrote about how many projects across the Middle East had been postponed or cancelled after the fall in the oil price in 2014. “Many thousands of people have also lost their jobs; so far I have been lucky.” Falling oil prices have also affected activity in Canada. According to one carpenter based in Alberta, the province is “in a recession but compared to Ireland, it’s still booming”. Back in Ireland For those who have already moved back to Ireland, the experience has been far from rosy. Of the 44 returned respondents, difficulty securing a job, low wages and precarious short-term contracts were commonly reported. “Construction positions are on the up, but with stealth taxes and living costs, we are struggling financially, as bad as we were before we emigrated,” wrote a safety consultant and father of four, recently returned from Australia. Others have had difficulty getting their overseas experience or qualifications recognised by employers in Ireland. “The work-life balance is definitely better, and being nearer to family and friends is also a positive,” wrote a plumber recently returned from the US. But despite his 20 years’ experience, he said “hourly rates are poor” at about €18 per hour, and it was “very difficult to get work directly with a good company, as it is all sub-contracted out”. Advertise on the UK & Ireland Construction Network and reach every suitable Construction Professional A carpenter turned foreman, who worked in Australia and Canada before moving back to Ireland last year, said he found a job quickly on his return, but “pay rates don’t compare”. “I lost my no-claims bonus, so van insurance is expensive, and I paid huge duty to bring back my tools in. [This is] very frustrating as the Government is supposedly encouraging people to return.” Will they move home? So where do the workers still living abroad see their future? Four in 10 said they definitely want to move back to live in Ireland; 14 per cent plan to do so within two years. Three in 10 are undecided, while another three in 10 do not plan to ever return. Some said they were willing to “go wherever the work is”. “I’ve always said Ireland, but the longer I stay here the more this becomes home,” said a carpenter who has been working in New Zealand for six years, echoing a common response among those who are “undecided”. “Moving back to Ireland is more work and hassle than staying in Australia,” wrote an engineering manager, currently working on the Metro system in Sydney. “Moving to Ireland would mean learning the Irish system, mostly from scratch. What’s the incentive?” Some are trying their best to make the move home, but feel “stuck abroad”. One electrician living in Sydney with his partner and baby sees his future in Australia, but not for the lack of wanting to be back in Dublin. “We’ve been away for five years now. We do not have enough to buy a house. We are no longer entitled to any benefits in Ireland after so long. So at the moment we have to stay abroad. We live in Sydney, but Ireland will always be home.”   Source:  
  Are you one of them? Advertise a vacancy today   The September – December 2016 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Report, issued on Monday, shows that 37 percent of construction companies surveyed reported difficulties recruiting skilled labour, with 33 per cent citing a lack of appropriate skills in their current workforce. There are lots of Construction Jobs In Ireland but very few construction workers are applying.   “We are seeing a resilient, sustained recovery and notable symmetry in challenges faced by firms both North and South,” InterTradeIreland Strategy and Policy Director Aidan Gough said. “The number of companies across the island reporting stability or growth in the last quarter has remained fairly constant at 84 per cent; however exporters continue to fare better than non-exporters with 51 per experiencing growth compared to 36 per cent.   “The construction sector was hit harder than others during the downturn but is reporting robust signs of resurgence with 82 per cent reporting they are stable or in growth. Over 75 per cent of businesses in the sector say they are profitable or very profitable. However an emerging skills shortage in the construction sector is obviously an obstacle to continued growth. This may lead to building firms beginning to feel the pinch in terms of the acquisition of new contracts and servicing the needs of fuller order books.” Further signs of buoyancy are evident in the employment figures reported in the survey, which shows a large increase in the number of firms in the Ireland reporting an increase in employment levels (14 per cent) – the highest number of firms reporting an increase in recent years, with larger firms experiencing a higher rate of growth at 54 per cent.   “The Business Monitor results also reveal that companies across the island are experiencing similar challenges,” Gough said, “although many are signs of a healthy economy and include increased competition, discounting by competitors and difficulties in finding skilled labour as companies grow. However the greatest challenge facing businesses is rising costs, particularly energy costs. “With almost a third of firms reporting that they are running at break-even and 78% already running close to or at capacity, there is a vulnerable tier of the economy that could be exposed to inflationary pressures. Nevertheless, the overall message is that of a robust economy, with companies going into potentially challenging times from a position of relative strength”.   Other insights revealed by the InterTradeIreland Business Monitor include: 98 per cent have no plan in place to deal with the consequences of Brexit 51 per cent of businesses in cross-border sales concerned about currency/exchange rate More than a quarter of growing businesses (28 per cent) have indicated they are experiencing difficulties recruiting appropriate skills for their businesses. 45 per cent of all businesses surveyed noted rising energy costs as a current issue for their business. 49 per cent of businesses surveyed noted rising overheads (apart from energy) as a current concern. Source:  
There are many construction workers from Ireland, who, in recent years, have felt compelled to seek work in London. This is no surprise of course; before 2014, the Irish construction industry (and the wider economy) had experienced seven years of decline - a decline that was simply unprecedented. However, the Irish economy is on the up and rising fortunes within the construction industry in Ireland means that the need to travel to London for work should no longer be seen as the only option. Construction in Ireland has most certainly improved and, at long last, rates of pay are starting to increase. Intangible Costs Of course, those that currently fly back home weekly or monthly from London may have flights and accommodation paid for by the company they work for. So, while they are not financially out of pocket, they do potentially lose out on so much more. The real downside is being separated from family every week. Only seeing family and kids at the weekend means people in this position are effectively missing out on seeing their children growing up. That is something that you cannot put a price on. Being away from partners for a week or weeks at a time may also put a strain on relationships. Advertise a Construction Vacancy   So, there is the intangible cost (being away from family) to factor in. Furthermore, there is the tangible cost to consider too. In the latest figures produced by Expatistan, who study the cost of living index in cities across the globe, Dublin was reported as being 24% cheaper to live in than London. Direct Costs Dublin is comparable to London for the price of clothing and just 2% cheaper for food. However, there are there some marked differences overall. Dublin is 17% cheaper than London regarding entertainment and 18% lower for personal care. The most significant differences, however, are for transportation - which is 29% cheaper in Dublin. The biggest difference overall is for housing. Dublin Housing is a massive 39% cheaper than in London. In fact, by whatever renowned measure you choose to look at, Dublin comes out on top. The Mercer Quality of Living Survey is an annual comparison of cities using a large set of criteria (39 separate factors) including education, healthcare, hygiene, environment, safety, recreation, public transport and political-economic stability. Dublin is significantly ahead of London in this survey. Dublin has many advantages: much cheaper fuel and housing alongside other important considerations such as lower population density, more hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants and lower inequalities in income overall. The Irish government haven’t been standing still either.  Two pieces of legislation have improved the construction industry in Ireland. The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 will tighten up control with increased monitoring and safety on building works to hopefully ensure that developments like Priory Hall never happen again. The Construction Contracts Act 2013, enacted in July 2013, will - in time - help to secure the industry and ensure continued stability and growth. It requires all contracts to include full mechanisms for payment. Buoyed by these two important legislative gains, stability in the market will further increase for 2016 and beyond. Conclusion It looks like the time is right for those construction workers currently engaged in the treadmill of working in London during the week and flying home to reconsider their options. Rates of pay, 'money in the back pocket', so to speak is obviously important - but taking a wider view and considering the cost of living and quality of life is even more important.  
The latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index shows activity rose to 63.6 for the first sector of this  year from 58.6 in December on the back of new business. Total activity in the construction sector has increased in each of the past 29 months, according to the index. All three sub-categories monitored by the index – housing, commercial and civil engineering – recorded a rise in activity. The sharpest increase was in housing activity which recorded the strongest growth since October 2014, rising from 28.3 to 65.8. Commercial activity jumped from 59.7 to 62.4 while civil engineering activity rose from 52 to 54.7. The index reported a sharp rise in new business while the rate of job creation quickened for the third month running. Business sentiment was little-changed at the start of the year, remaining strongly positive. Rising new work was the main driver of optimism regarding activity for the year ahead, with three-fifths of respondents predicting growth. Construction firms increased their purchasing activity at a stronger pace in January due to a rise in new orders. Input buying has expanded in each month since March 2014, the index